A bright band of dust sweeps down the center of ancient Mesopotamia in this April 19, 2005, Aqua MODIS image. The dust is blowing north out of the Syrian Desert in Iraq and Syria. Though the color matches the ground, the airborne dust is brighter and smoother in texture, which makes it stand out in the image. The dust blankets the land between the Euphrates River in the east and the Tigris River in the west - the region that nurtured some of the earliest human civilizations. A green band of vegetation makes the Euphrates River easy to see in modern Syria at image left, while on the right side of the image, the Tigris is also lined in green as it flows through eastern Iraq. MODIS detected three fires to the east of the Tigris, and they are marked with red dots. Sensor: Aqua/MODIS. Data Start Date: 4/19/05.